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China

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

China continues to be one of the largest recipients of global FDI due to a relatively high economic growth rate and an expanding consumer base that demands diverse, high-quality products.  FDI has historically played an essential role in China’s economic development.  However, due to recent stagnant FDI growth and gaps in China’s domestic technology and labor capabilities, Chinese government officials have prioritized promoting relatively friendly FDI policies promising market access expansion and non-discriminatory, “national treatment” for foreign enterprises through general improvements to the business environment.  They also have made efforts to strengthen China’s regulatory framework to enhance broader market-based competition.

In 2019, China issued an updated nationwide “negative list” that made some modest openings to foreign investment, most notably in the financial sector, and promised future improvements to the investment climate through the implementation of China’s new FIL.  MOFCOM reported that FDI flows to China grew by 5.8 percent year-on-year in 2019, reaching USD137 billion.  In 2019, U.S. businesses expressed concern over China’s weak protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR); corruption; discriminatory and non-transparent anti-monopoly enforcement that forces foreign companies to license technology at below-market prices; excessive cyber security and personal data-related requirements; increased emphasis on the role of CCP cells in foreign enterprises, and an unreliable legal system lacking in both transparency and the rule of law.

China seeks to support inbound FDI through the “Invest in China” website, where MOFCOM publishes laws, statistics, and other relevant information about investing in China.  Further, each province has a provincial-level investment promotion agency that operates under the guidance of local-level commerce departments.  See:  MOFCOM’s Investment Promotion Website 

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Entry into the Chinese market is regulated by the country’s “negative lists,” which identify the sectors in which foreign investment is restricted or prohibited, and a catalogue for encouraged foreign investment, which identifies the sectors the government encourages foreign investment to be allocated to.

  • The Special Administrative Measures for Foreign Investment Access (̈the “Nationwide Negative List”);
  • The Special Administrative Measures for Foreign Investment Access to Pilot Free Trade Zones (the “FTZ Negative List”) used in China’s 18 FTZs
  • The Industry Catalogue for Encouraged Foreign Investment (also known as the “FIC”).   The central government has used the FIC to encourage FDI inflows to key sectors – in particular semiconductors and other high-tech industries that would help China achieve MIC 2025 objectives.  The FIC is subdivided into a cross-sector nationwide catalogue and a separate catalogue for western and central regions, China’s least developed regions.

In addition to the above lists, MOFCOM and NDRC also release the annual Market Access Negative List  to guide investments.  This negative list – unlike the nationwide negative list that applies only to foreign investors – defines prohibitions and restrictions for all investors, foreign and domestic.  Launched in 2016, this negative list attempted to unify guidance on allowable investments previously found in piecemeal laws and regulations.  This list also highlights what economic sectors are only open to state-owned investors.

In restricted industries, foreign investors face equity caps or joint venture requirements to ensure control is maintained by a Chinese national and enterprise.  These requirements are often used to compel foreign investors to transfer technology in order to participate in China’s market.  Foreign companies have reported these dictates and decisions are often made behind closed doors and are thus difficult to attribute as official Chinese government policy.  Foreign investors report fearing government retaliation if they publicly raise instances of technology coercion.

Below are a few examples of industries where these sorts of investment restrictions apply:

  • Preschool, general high school, and higher education institutes require a Chinese partner.
  • Establishment of medical institutions also require a Chinese JV partner.

Examples of foreign investment sectors requiring Chinese control include:

  • Selective breeding and seed production for new varieties of wheat and corn.
  • Basic telecommunication services.
  • Radio and television listenership and viewership market research.

Examples of foreign investment equity caps include:

  • 50 percent in automobile manufacturing (except special and new energy vehicles);
  • 50 percent in value-added telecom services (except e-commerce domestic multiparty communications, storage and forwarding, call center services);
  • 50 percent in manufacturing of commercial and passenger vehicles.

The 2019 editions of the nationwide and FTZ negative lists and the FIC for foreign investment came into effect July 30, 2019.  The central government updated the Market Access Negative List in October 2019.  The 2019 foreign investment negative lists made minor modifications to some industries, reducing the number of restrictions and prohibitions from 48 to 40 in the nationwide negative list, and from 45 to 37 in China’s pilot FTZs.  Notable changes included openings in the oil and gas sector, telecommunications, and shipping of marine products.  On July 2, 2019, Premier Li Keqiang announced new openings in the financial sector, including lifting foreign equity caps for futures by January 2020, fund management by April, and securities by December.  While U.S. businesses welcomed market openings, many foreign investors remained underwhelmed and disappointed by Chinese government’s lack of ambition and refusal to provide more significant liberalization.  Foreign investors noted these announced measures occurred mainly in industries that domestic Chinese companies already dominate.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

China is not a member of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), but the OECD Council established a country program of dialogue and co-operation with China in October 1995.  The OECD completed its most recent investment policy review for China in 2008 and published an update in 2013.

China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) boosted China’s economic growth and advanced its legal and governmental reforms.  The WTO completed its most recent investment trade review for China in 2018, highlighting that China remains a major destination for FDI inflows, especially in real estate, leasing and business services, and wholesale and retail trade.

Business Facilitation

In 2019, China climbed more than 40 spots in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Survey to 31st place out of 190 economies.  This was partly due to regulatory reforms that helped streamline some business processes, including improvements to addressing delays in construction permits and resolving insolvency.  This ranking does not account for major challenges U.S. businesses face in China like IPR violations and forced technology transfer.  Moreover, China’s ranking is based on data limited only to the business environments in Beijing and Shanghai.

Created in 2018, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is now responsible for business registration processes.  The State Council established a new website in English, which is more user-friendly than SAMR’s website, to assist foreign investors looking to do business in China.  In December 2019, China also launched a Chinese-language nationwide government service platform on the State Council’s official website.  The platform connected 40 central government agencies with 31 provincial governments, providing information on licensing and project approvals by specific agencies.  The central government published the website under its “improving the business climate” reform agenda, claiming that the website consolidates information and offers cross-regional government online services.

Foreign companies still complain about continued challenges when setting up a business relative to their Chinese competitors.  Numerous companies offer consulting, legal, and accounting services for establishing wholly foreign-owned enterprises, partnership enterprises, joint ventures, and representative offices in China.  Investors should review their options carefully with an experienced advisor before choosing a corporate entity or investment vehicle.

Outward Investment

Since 2001, China has pursued a “going-out” investment policy.  At first, the Chinese government mainly encouraged SOEs to secure natural resources and facilitate market access for Chinese exports.  In recent years, China’s overseas investments have diversified with both state and private enterprises investing in nearly all industries and economic sectors.  While China remains a major global investor, total outbound direct investment (ODI) flows fell 8.2 percent year-on-year in 2019 to USD110.6 billion, according to MOFCOM data.

In order to suppress significant capital outflow pressure, the Chinese government created “encouraged,” “restricted,” and “prohibited” outbound investment categories in 2016 to guide Chinese investors, especially in Europe and the United States.  While the guidelines restricted Chinese outbound investment in sectors like property, hotels, cinemas, entertainment, and sports teams, they encouraged outbound investment in sectors that supported Chinese industrial policy by acquiring advanced manufacturing and high-tech assets.  Chinese firms involved in MIC 2025 targeted sectors often receive preferential government financing, subsidies, and access to an opaque network of investors to promote and provide incentives for outbound investment.  The guidance also encourages investments that promote China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which seeks to create connectivity and cooperation agreements between China and dozens of countries via infrastructure investment, construction projects, real estate, etc.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

China has approximately 150,000 wholly-owned SOEs, of which 50,000 are owned by the central government, and the remainder by local or provincial governments.  SOEs, both central and local, account for 30 to 40 percent of total gross domestic product (GDP) and about 20 percent of China’s total employment.  Non-financial SOE assets totaled roughly USD30 trillion.  SOEs can be found in all sectors of the economy, from tourism to heavy industries.  In addition to wholly-owned enterprises, state funds are spread throughout the economy, such that the state may also be the majority or largest shareholder in a nominally private enterprise.  China’s leading SOEs benefit from preferential government policies aimed at developing bigger and stronger “national champions.”  SOEs enjoy favored access to essential economic inputs (land, hydrocarbons, finance, telecoms, and electricity) and exercise considerable power in markets like steel and minerals.  SOEs have long enjoyed preferential access to credit and the ability to issue publicly traded equity and debt.  A comprehensive, published list of all Chinese SOEs does not exist.

PRC officials have indicated China intends to utilize OECD guidelines to improve the professionalism and independence of SOEs, including relying on Boards of Directors that are independent from political influence.  Other recent reforms have included salary caps, limits on employee benefits, and attempts to create stock incentive programs for managers who have produced mixed results.  However, analysts believe minor reforms will be ineffective if SOE administration and government policy remain intertwined, and Chinese officials have made minimal progress in fundamentally changing the regulation and business conduct of SOEs.  SOEs continue to hold dominant shares in their respective industries, regardless of whether they are strategic, which may further restrain private investment in the economy.  Among central SOEs managed by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), senior management positions are mainly filled by senior CCP members who report directly to the CCP, and double as the company’s party secretary.  SOE executives outrank regulators in the CCP rank structure, which minimizes the effectiveness of regulators in implementing reforms.  The lack of management independence and the controlling ownership interest of the state make SOEs de facto arms of the government, subject to government direction and interference.  SOEs are rarely the defendant in legal disputes, and when they are, they almost always prevail.  U.S. companies often complain about the lack of transparency and objectivity in commercial disputes with SOEs.

Privatization Program

Since 2013, the PRC government has periodically announced reforms to SOEs that included selling SOE shares to outside investors or a mixed ownership model, in which private companies invest in SOEs and outside managers are hired.  The government has tried these approaches to improve SOE management structures, emphasize the use of financial benchmarks, and gradually infuse private capital into some sectors traditionally monopolized by SOEs like energy, telecommunications, and finance.  In practice, however, reforms have been gradual, as the PRC government has struggled to implement its SOE reform vision and often preferred to utilize a SOE consolidation approach.  Recently, Xi and other senior leaders have increasingly focused reform efforts on strengthening the role of the state as an investor or owner of capital, instead of the old SOE model in which the state was more directly involved in managing operations.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S.  FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year   Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP ($M USD) 2019*   $14,380,000 2018 $13,608,000 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S.  FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018(**)     $109,958 2018          $116,518 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2018(**)      $39,557 2018          $39,473 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Total Inbound Stock as a % of GDP 2018(**) 15.9% 2018 12.1% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org.en/Pages/DIAE/
World%
 

20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx 
 

*China’s National Bureau of Statistics (converted at 6.8 RMB/USD estimate)
**China’s 2019 Yearbook (Annual Economic Data from China’s Economic Ministries:  MOFCOM, NBS, and Ministry of Finance)

Table 3:  Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $2,814,067 100% Total Outward $1,982,270 100%
China, PR: Hong Kong $1,378,383 48.96% China, PR: Hong Kong $958,904 48.37%
British Virgin Islands $302,553 10.75% Cayman Islands $237,262 11.96%
Japan $166,817 6.13% British Virgin Islands $119,658 6.03%
Singapore $115,035 4.08% United States $67,038 3.38%
Germany $78,394 2.78% Singapore $35,970 1.81%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source:  IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS)

Table 4:  Sources of Portfolio Investment
Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries $560,250 100% All Countries $303,4000 100% All Countries $256,849 100%
China, PR: Hong Kong $179,672 32.0% China, PR: Hong Kong $121,883 40.1% China, PR: Hong Kong $57,789 22.5%
Cayman Islands $47,917  8.5% Cayman Islands  $28,323  9.3% British Virgin Island  $38,230 14.8%
British Virgin Island $40,270  7.1% Luxembourg  $8,786  2.8% Cayman Islands  $19,594 7.6%
Luxembourg  $13,712  2.4% Japan  $7,012  2.3% Germany  $7,660 2.9%
Germany  $12,294  2.1% Ireland  $6,829  2.2% Singapore  $7,122 2.7%

Macau

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Under the concept of “one country, two systems,” Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy in economic matters, and its economic system is to remain unchanged until at least 2049. The GOM maintains a transparent, non-discriminatory, and free-market economy. Macau has separate membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) from that of mainland China.

There are no restrictions placed on foreign investment in Macau as there are no special rules governing foreign investment. Both overseas and domestic firms register under the same set and are subject to the same regulations on business, such as the Commercial Code (Decree 40/99/M).

Macau is heavily dependent on the gaming sector and tourism. The GOM aims to diversify Macau’s economy by attracting foreign investment and is committed to maintaining an investor-friendly environment. Corporate taxes are low, with a tax rate of 12 percent for companies whose net profits exceed MOP 300,000 (USD 37,500). For net profits less than USD 37,500, the tax ranges from three percent to 12 percent. The top personal tax rate is 12 percent. The tax rate of casino concessionaries is 35 percent on gross gaming revenue, plus a four percent contribution for culture, infrastructure, tourism, and a social security fund.

In 2002, the GOM ended a long-standing gaming monopoly, awarding two gaming concessions to consortia with U.S. interests. This opening has encouraged substantial U.S. investment in casinos and hotels and has spurred rapid economic growth. Macau is attempting to position itself to be a regional center for incentive travel, conventions, and tourism. In March 2019, the GOM extended for two years the gaming licenses of SJM (a locally-owned company) and MGM China (a joint venture with investment from U.S.-owned MGM Resorts International that holds a sub-concession from SJM), that were set to expire in 2020. The concessions of all six of Macau’s gambling concessionaires and sub-concessionaires are now set to expire in 2022. The GOM is currently drafting a bill to guide the gaming concession retendering process.

The Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) is the GOM agency responsible for promoting trade and investment activities. IPIM provides one-stop services, including notary service, for business registration, and it applies legal and administrative procedures to all local and foreign individuals or organizations interested in setting up a company in Macau.

Macau maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors through various business networks and platforms, such as the IPIM, the Macau Chamber of Commerce, AmCham Macau, and the Macau Association of Banks.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign firms and individuals are free to establish companies, branches, and representative offices without discrimination or undue regulation in Macau. There are no restrictions on the ownership of such establishments. Company directors are not required to be citizens of, or resident in, Macau, except for the following three professional services which impose residency requirements:

Education – an individual applying to establish a school must have a Certificate of Identity or have the right to reside in Macau. The principal of a school must be a Macau resident.

Newspapers and magazines – applicants must first apply for business registration and register with the Government Information Bureau as an organization or an individual. The publisher of a newspaper or magazine must be a Macau resident or have the right to reside in Macau.

Legal services – lawyers from foreign jurisdictions who seek to practice Macau law must first obtain residency in Macau. Foreign lawyers must also pass an examination before they can register with the Lawyer’s Association, a self-regulatory body. The examination is given in Chinese or Portuguese. After passing the examination, foreign lawyers are required to serve an 18-month internship before they are able to practice law in Macau.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Macau last conducted the WTO Trade Policy Review in May 2013. https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/g281_e.pdf

Business Facilitation

Macau provides a favorable business and investment environment for enterprises and investors. The IPIM helps foreign investors in registering a company and liaising with the involved agencies for entry into the Macau market. The business registration process takes less than 10 working days. http://www.ipim.gov.mo/en/services/one-stop-service/handle-company-registration-procedures/ .

Outward Investment

Macau, as a free market economy, does not promote or incentivize outward investment, nor does it restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. Hong Kong and mainland China were the top two destinations for Macau’s outward investments in 2018.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Macau does not have state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Several economic sectors – including cable television, telecommunications, electricity, and airport/port management, are run by private companies under concession contracts from the GOM. The GOM holds a small percentage of shares (ranging from one to 10 percent) in these government-affiliated enterprises. The government set out in its Commercial Code the basic elements of a competition policy with regard to commercial practices that can distort the proper functioning of markets. Court cases related to anti-competitive behavior remain rare.

Privatization Program

The GOM has given no indication in recent years that it has plans for a privatization program.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

Overseas Private Investment Corporation coverage is not available in Macau.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2018 $55,040 2018 $55,084 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or internationalSource of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 $398 N/A N/A BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2017 $51 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2018 67% 2018 53% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

* Source for Host Country Data: Macau Statistics and Census Service

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 34,911 100% Total Outward 2,930 100%
China, P.R.: Hong Kong 9,800 28% China, P.R.: Mainland 1,631 56%
British Virgin Islands 9,123 26% China, P.R.: Hong Kong 1,141 39%
China, P.R.: Mainland 6,241 18% Cayman Islands 74 3%
Cayman Islands 6,078 17% British Virgin Islands 70 2%
Portugal 1,134 3% Cyprus 0 0%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, current US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 11,324,581 100% All Countries 7,929,155 100% All Countries 3,395,426 100%
Cayman Islands 1,686,670 15% Cayman Islands 1,234,954 16% Canada 505,494 15%
United Kingdom 1,346,345 12% United Kingdom 929,469 12% Cayman Islands 451,716 13%
Japan 1,003,988 9% Japan 775,570 10% United Kingdom 416,876 12%
Canada 975,929 9% Canada 470,435 6% C Japan 228,418 7%
France 558,074 5% Switzerland 442,195 6% Netherlands, The 184,339 5%

Russia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) is responsible for overseeing investment policy in Russia.  The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) was established in 2011 to facilitate FDI in Russia and has already attracted over $40 billion of foreign capital into the Russian economy through long-term strategic partnerships.  In 2013, Russia’s Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) launched an “Invest in Russian Regions” project to promote FDI on a regional basis.  Since 2014, ASI has released an annual ranking of Russia’s regions in terms of the relative competitiveness of their investment climates, and provides potential investors with information about regions most open to foreign investment.  In 2019, 69 Russian regions improved their Regional Investment Climate Index scores (https://asi.ru/investclimate/rating).  The Foreign Investment Advisory Council (FIAC), established in 1994, is chaired by the prime minister and currently includes 53 international company members and four companies as observers.  The FIAC allows select foreign investors to directly present their views on improving the investment climate in Russia and advises the government on regulatory policy.

Russia’s basic legal framework governing investment includes 1) Law 160-FZ, July 9, 1999, “On Foreign Investment in the Russian Federation;” 2) Law No. 39-FZ,  February 25, 1999, “On Investment Activity in the Russian Federation in the Form of Capital Investment;” 3) Law No. 57-FZ, April 29, 2008, “Foreign Investments in Companies Having Strategic Importance for State Security and Defense;” and 4) the Law of the RSFSR No. 1488-1, June 26, 1991, “On Investment Activity in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).”  This framework of laws nominally attempts to guarantee equal rights for foreign and local investors in Russia.  However, exemptions are permitted when it is deemed necessary to protect the Russian constitution, morality, health, human rights, national security, or defense, and to promote its socioeconomic development.  Foreign investors may freely use the profits obtained from Russia-based investments for any purpose, provided they do not violate Russian law.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Russian law places two primary restrictions on land ownership by foreigners.  The first is on the foreign ownership of land located in border areas or other sensitive territories in terms of national security.  The second restricts foreign ownership of agricultural land, restricting foreign individuals and companies, persons without citizenship, and agricultural companies more than 50-percent foreign-owned from owning land.  These entities may, however, hold agricultural land through leasehold rights.  As an alternative to agricultural land ownership, foreign companies typically lease land for up to 49 years, the maximum term allowed.

A law “On Mass Media,” took effect in 2015 which restricts foreign ownership of any Russian media company to 20 percent (the previous law applied a 50 percent limit to Russia’s broadcast sector).   In December 2018, the State Duma approved in its first reading a draft bill introducing new restrictions on online news aggregation services.  If adopted, foreign companies, including international organizations and individuals, would be limited to a maximum of 20 percent ownership in Russian news aggregator websites.  The second, final hearing was planned for February 2019 but was postponed.  To date, this proposed law has not been passed.

U.S. stakeholders have raised concerns about similar limits on FDI in the mining and mineral extraction sectors, and describe the licensing regime as non-transparent and unpredictable.

Russia’s Commission on Control of Foreign Investment (Commission) was established in 2008 to monitor foreign investment in strategic sectors in accordance with the SSL.  Between 2008 and 2019, the Commission received 621 applications for foreign investment, 282 of which were reviewed, according to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).  Of those 282, the Commission granted preliminary approval for 259 (92 percent approval rate) and rejected 23 (https://fas.gov.ru/news/29330).  International organizations, foreign states, and the companies they control are treated as distinct entities under the Commission. They are subject to restrictions applicable to a single foreign entity if they participate in a strategic business.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The WTO conducted Russia’s first Trade Policy Review (TPR) in September 2016.  Dates are still pending for the next Russia TPR.  (Related reports are available at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp445_e.htm ).

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) issues an annual World Investment Report covering different investment policy topics.  In 2019, the focus of this report was on special economic zones (https://unctad.org/en/Pages/Publications/WorldInvestmentReports.aspx ).  UNCTAD also issues an investment policy monitor (https://investmentpolicyhub.unctad.org/IPM ).

Business Facilitation

The Federal Tax Service (FTS) operates Russia’s business registration website: www.nalog.ru .  Per law (Article 13 of Law 129-FZ of 2001), a company must register with a local FTS office, and the registration process typically takes no more than three days.  Foreign companies may be required to notarize the originals of incorporation documents included in the application package.  To establish a business in Russia, a company must register with FTS and pay a registration fee of RUB 4,000.  Since January 1, 2019, the registration fee is waived for online submission of incorporation documents.

In 2020, Russia moved up three notches to the 28th position in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Index.  The ranking acknowledged several reforms that helped Russia improve its position.  Russia has improved the process for establishing connection to electricity by setting new deadlines and establishing specialized departments for connection.  Russia has also strengthened minority investor protections by requiring greater corporate transparency, and facilitated the payment of taxes by reducing the tax authority review period of applications for VAT cash refunds, as well as enhancing the software used for tax and payroll preparation.

Outward Investment

The Russian government does not restrict Russian investors from investing abroad.  Since 2015, Russia’s “De-offshorization Law” (376-FZ) requires that Russian tax residents disclose to the government their overseas assets, potentially subjecting these assets to Russian taxes.

While there are no restrictions on the distribution of profits to a nonresident entity, some foreign currency control restrictions apply to Russian residents (both companies and individuals) and to foreign currency transactions.  As of January 1, 2018, all Russian citizens and foreign holders of Russian residence permits are considered Russian “currency control residents.”  These “residents” are required to notify the tax authorities when a foreign bank account is opened, changed, or closed and when funds are moved in a foreign bank account.  Individuals who have spent less than 183 days in Russia during the reporting period are exempt from the reporting requirements and restrictions using foreign bank accounts.  On January 1, 2020, Russia abolished all currency control restrictions on payments of funds by non-residents to bank accounts of Russian residents opened with banks in OECD or FATF member states.  This is provided that such states participate in the automatic exchange of financial account information with Russia.  As a result, from 2020 onward, Russian residents will be able to freely use declared personal foreign accounts for savings and investment in a wide range of financial products.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Russian state-owned enterprise (SOE)s are subdivided into four main categories:

1) unitary enterprises (federal or municipal, fully owned by the government), of which there are 692 owned by the federal government as of January 1, 2020;

2) other state-owned enterprises where government holds a stake, of which there are 1,079 joint-stock companies owned by the federal government as of January 1, 2019 – such as Sberbank, the biggest Russian retail bank (over 50 percent is owned by the government);

3) natural monopolies, such as Russian Railways; and

4) state corporations (usually a giant conglomerate of companies) such as Rostec and Vnesheconombank (VEB), of which there are currently six.

The number of federal government-owned “unitary enterprises” declined by 44 percent from 1,247 in 2017, according to the Federal Agency for State Property Management, while the number of joint-stock companies with state participation declined by 33.6 percent in the same period.

SOE procurement rules are non-transparent and use informal pressure by government officials to discriminate against foreign goods and services.  Sole-source procurement by Russia’s SOEs increased to 45.5 percent in 2018, or to 37.7 percent in value terms, according to a study by the non-state National Procurement Transparency Rating analytical center.  The current Russian government policy of import substitution mandates numerous requirements for localization of production of certain types of machinery, equipment, and goods.

Privatization Program

The Russian government and its SOEs dominate the economy.  In January 2020, the Russian government published a new privatization plan for 2020-22 that identified 86 federal unitary state enterprises, 186 joint-stock companies, and 13 limited liability companies for privatization over a three-year period.  The plan specifies that market conditions will determine the terms of privatization, but the government estimates the plan could generate RUB 3.6 billion ($48.2 million) per year for the federal budget.  The plan would also reduce the state’s share in VTB, one of Russia’s largest banks, from over 60 percent to 50 percent plus one share and in Sovkomflot, a large shipping company, to 75 percent plus one share within three years.  Other large SOEs might be privatized on an ad hoc basis, depending on market conditions.

The Russian government still maintains a list of 136 SOEs with “national significance” that are either wholly or partially owned by the Russian state and whose privatization is permitted only with a special governmental decree, including Aeroflot, Rosneftegaz, Transneft, Russian Railways, and VTB.  While the total number of SOEs has declined significantly in recent years, mostly large SOEs remain in state hands and “large scale” privatization, intended to help shore up the federal budget and spur economic recovery, is not keeping up with implementation plans.  The government has attributed the slow pace of privatization of large SOEs to low share prices, which would yield insufficient revenue for government coffers.   As a result, the total privatization revenues received in 2018 reached only RUB 2.44 billion ($32 million), down 58 percent compared to 2017.

In 2019, privatization revenues (excluding large SOEs) reached RUB 2.2 billion ($29.5 million), down 40.5 percent compared to the official target of RUB 5.6 billion ($75.0 million).  The government expects that “small-scale privatization” (excluding privatization of large SOEs) will bring up to RUB 3.6 billion ($48.2 million) to the federal budget annually in 2020-2022.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) (previously U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)) suspended consideration of any new financing and insurance transactions in Russia after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.  OPIC previously provided loans, loan guarantees (financing), and investment insurance against political risks to U.S. companies investing in Russia.

The RDIF was established in 2011 as a state-backed private equity fund to operate with long term financial and strategic investors and offer co-financing for foreign investments directed at the modernization of the Russian economy.  RDIF participates in projects estimated from $50 to $500 million, with a share in the project not exceeding 50 percent.  To date, RDIF has invested and committed RUB 1.7 trillion ($22.8 billion).  Of this amount, RDIF itself invested RUB 170 billion ($2.3 billion), while co-investors, partners, and banks provided RUB 1.6 trillion ($21.4 billion).  (Note:  Unless otherwise indicated, the RUB-USD-exchange rate is set at the closing May 5, 2020, rate of RUB 74.65 to the USD throughout the report.)  RDIF has attracted long-term foreign capital investments totaling more than $40 billion in the energy, energy saving technologies, telecommunications, and healthcare sectors.  The RDIF invests predominantly in Russia, but up to 20 percent of RDIF’s capital may be invested outside of the country provided that these projects are beneficial to the Russian economy.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($trillion USD) 2019 $1,689 2018 $1.661 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 $3,174 2018 $14,795 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2018 $8,175 18 $4,584 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2018 $24.5% 2018 25.0% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 
 

* Source for Host Country Data: FDI data – Central Bank of Russia (CBR); GDP data – Rosstat (GDP) (Russia’s GDP was RUB 104,630 billion in 2018, according to Rosstat.  The yearly average RUB-USD-exchange rate in 2018, according to the CBR, was RUB 62.7078 to the USD).

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (as of October 1, 2019)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 550,209 100% Total Outward 473,141 100%
Cyprus 157,802 36% Cyprus 203,532 43%
Netherlands 57,810 11% Netherlands 58,463 12%
Luxemburg 41,666 8% Austria 26,049 6%
Bermuda 35,405 5% Switzerland 19,929 4%
Germany 17,583 4% 19,274 5%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Portfolio Investment Assets (as of October 1, 2019)
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 76,326 100% All Countries 7,529 100% All Countries 68.797 100%
Ireland 22,096 29% United States 2,252 30% Ireland 21,784 32%
Luxemburg 16,480 22% Jersey 1,353 18% Luxemburg 15,981 23.2%
UK 8,234 11% Cyprus 940 12% UK 8,047 12%
Netherlands 5,393 7% Luxemburg 499 6% Netherlands 4,904 7%
U.S. 5,099 6% Netherlands 490 6% U.S. 2,847 4%
Investment Climate Statements
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